I hate being trite.

As trite and generally stupid I believe resolutions are, for some reason I feel compelled this year to write...something. Basically, resolutions set me and everyone else who makes them up for disappointment and failure, especially when they get reviewed next new years eve. I don’t want to find myself saying next year: “What?! I didn’t climb Mt. Everest?! I didn’t stamp out disease, didn’t write the great American novel, and didn’t contribute in a great and tangible way to the evolution of society?!” What the hell did I do?

This year was probably one of the highest and lowest of my life and I am mostly relieved to see it end. I can’t say that I have any regrets, but I made mistakes that I will not make again.
I will start this year as a great scrutinizer. A skeptic. I accept this fully, and I am fortunate to not have felt this way until now. I don’t believe it will stand in my way.

Caution: a trite, clichéd, hackneyed thought ahead. I need to prioritize my goals and set them in motion. I already feel that I have looked up and time has passed that I can’t account for. I don’t like to have that feeling when I have so much to do, learn and explore. There are many big, expensive, and lengthy ideas floating in my head. I should get them organized. More or less, the rest of this list is based on this.

quit my crappy job
get a better flashlight
restore passion in my life (not that kind! well…)
continue to make my own decisions and eliminate the influence of outside sources.
find exhilaration, as it is the best human emotion
do not dwell on crap of the past that cannot be changed.
find the kindness of strangers and do not rely on it
figure out why I take crap from people and stop the behavior immediately
find cold medicine that works
learn, learn, learn
find and exercise partner

Maybe this will happen, maybe it won’t. But I’ll work on it. That’s all I can do.

Holidayness

The following is some evidence that I have way to much time on my hands (or that I am working too much). Okay, picture this: a Christmas tree decorated with medical supplies. Just let that sink in for a second. Let the idea wrap around you like a warm blanket.
Oh yeah, it’s that awesome. Small children would love to bask in its glow on Christmas morn. IV tubing, oxygen tubing, gauze, and suction tubing as tinsel. Needles, scissors, empty medicine bottles, (yes, it’s a very dangerous tree) electrodes, and airways as ornaments. Complete with isolation gown tree skirt and PEEP valve topper. Glorious.




Happy Christmas!

Anger

I have been worried about my pent up anger lately. It has been raining and cold, so I haven't gotten much bike time in (which is my usual cure). My mental state in general has been pretty low lately. But, as Dory says, I'm going to just keep swimming. Even if it feels like my head is under the water.

But, here's an example to attest that I am not a complete rageaholic. We took a newborn the other day to long term care for detox. That in itself prompts the snake inside me to seethe. When we got there the baby was dead asleep from being drugged up. The mom was there claiming that she got in a methadone clinic once she found out she was pregnant to get clean. Right. And magically the baby tested positive for cocaine, benzos, and heroin. Yeah. That's what I call trying to get clean.

I know that addiction is a terrible plight and a near incurable disease. Regardless, this is your child! I come from the school that if I were pregnant I probably would give up even caffeine to ensure my babys health. Also, the mom was loud and talkative and I couldn't wait to get rid of her. The baby was beautiful and adorable and seemingly otherwise fine. The fact that the mom didn't end up with a swift kick in the face shows, well, shows that I don't exactly want to get fired. And, okay so I'm not a violent person. But with great strength I wasn't even rude to her.

It is not my God who gives a beautiful baby to a junkie and denies one to a loving couple.

My conscience hurts

We had a depressed guy which usually isn't funny but because paramedics have an inherently terrible sense of humor, became funny.

From the very start I could barely talk to him. For example,
"Hi, how are you?"
"Terrible!"
"It's not all that bad. It's a lovely day out and you'll get to enjoy it." I offer.
"I don't care. I hate this place and everything about it."

I continued to try making conversation so I asked where he was from.
Dramatically he answered: "I don't know where I'm from, but I know where I've been: Hell!"
Um...ok, I don't really know what to say to that.

When we got to the hospital, he looked at me very seriously and said
"Do you smell that?"
"Um...yeah" trying to be polite as I did indeed smell something that was emitting from him.
"Smells like death!"

Once this conversation was relayed to my partner, it became legend, and for the rest of the day everything smelled like death.
Also, I decided that the catch phrase for my action movie will be:
"He doesn't know where he's from, but he knows where he's been: Hell."
Which can be printed on the movie poster under a picture of a nameless action hero dramatically posed ready to kick some face.

Lord, my conscience hurts.


Search term of the week: ‘weirdest national registry paramedic questions’ Most definitely, although you didn’t hear this from me, were a series of questions pertaining to which part of a car to cut first when extricating a patient. Not kidding. The only people in my class who got this right (other than the good guessers) were those who were rescue techs and they didn’t exactly learn that in paramedic school.

gizoogle word of the day: “paramizzles”

Rx

I've had a few calls lately of people taking meds that weren't theirs, taking too much of their own, or being just plain neglectful with their meds.

We had a guy who couldn't sleep so he took one of his moms rx antidepressants. He slept for 5 hours and when he woke up around noon he felt dizzy and lightheaded. He was 30 years old. No excuse for taking drugs that weren't his and even admitted to me that he took one of his moms valiums last week, but nothing bad happened. Stop taking medicine that is not prescribed to you.

Later we had a kid who got into and took three of his grandmothers clonozipam pills. He was pretty drowsy when we got there even though it had only been about 20 minutes since he took them. He was 20 months old. No excuse for leaving drugs around accessable for children. IV fluids, EKG, oxygen and to the hospital he went.

A few days later I took a lady who "accidentially" took 30 5mg valiums. Oops. She even called the pharmacist afterwards because (as the story goes) she didn't think they were working and maybe there was something she was doing wrong. Yeah. Taking the whole bottle.
When we go there she wasn't told she was being transferred to a mental health facility so when I arrived it was a surprise, and not the good kind.
"Hi, I'm Ellie, we're here to take you to that place"
"You're taking me away?!"
"Yes. No, I mean, yes, but not like that" (not with the handcuffs and straight jackets and guys in white scrubs.)
At this she burst into tears. I hate when that happens. I calmed her down and explained to the best of my knowledge what was going on. I was pretty mad that the nurse hadn't told her all this.

What even happened to child proof prescription bottles? The ones that 20 month olds, suicidal people, and idiot 30 year olds can't get into?

Work?

My second job has become a good time to catch up on the blogs I read and the blog I write. Even though the weather has been bad pretty much every time I go there.

Last week the only call where I did anything was a diabetic who was in bed in the middle of the day with a blood sugar of 49. Okay, why are they always naked?! I mean seriously!

It was snowing last week and in the county there were about 600 motor vehicle crashes, and we didn't actually get on scene to one of them (canceled by BLS before we got there)
The roads were legitimately bad and even with the four wheel drive on our pimp chase truck I was having a hard time stopping. What a comfort that was.

We also got on scene for a kid who basically didn't want to go to school that day. His mom said that he was unresponsive so it had potential. When we arrived my partner went to the patient who appeared fine and I talked to his mom.
She started going on and on about how he is a good kid, and loves school, and she works a lot and he skipped school yesterday, and all this extraneous information when all I asked was if he had any medical problems. I hate to be rude to people in distress, but I had to be like, please cut to the medical issues. Of which he had none. We assessed him fully and found nothing wrong with him, other than being a teenager.
We released the patient to BLS and went on our way.

The Job

I’ve finally put a post together about the new job. Unfortunately, it does not yet replace my current job at “The Crappiest Ambulance Company on Earth” but now in my time off, I am a part time hospital based 911 chase car.

I cannot express how happy I am to have a 911 job again, even if it is part time. I don’t care. When I step up into the ambulance I can hear “Back in the Saddle Again” playing in a loop. I love it.

There are a lot of weird things about being hospital based. Firstly: nowhere to nap. We hang out in the ER when we’re not on a call, we basically surf the net and talk. One problem with hanging in the ER is that there is always food in the break room. Out of nowhere a cake, tray of cookies, bag of candy or other random delicious temptation will crop up. Evil, evil ER nurses providing a veritable buffet all the time.
I’m not quite over the fact that a lot of times, the ER is busy and we are not, therefore, I feel lazy when I'm sitting at the computer updating my blog. But the truth is, there's nothing for me to do otherwise unless a nurse asks me to put in an IV or do a 12 lead.

I would have to say that best part of my new job is the excessively large truck and the incredibly, ridiculously loud siren. Well, I should say sirens. And an honest to God air horn. And by air horn, I mean a horn loud enough to scare the pants off of people within a six block radius. They don’t even know what hit them. I literally drive down the street with a huge smile on my face, basking in the destruction of the quiet town atmosphere and tympanic membranes of it’s fine citizens.
I must look like a jerk, as people cover their ears in a vain attempt to block out the noise, look toward the truck and see a beaming Ellie behind the wheel maniacally laughing as I set my siren from stun to kill.

True to form, I have been a bit of a white cloud, but I’ve had enough calls to be a lot better with those stupid spring loaded IV catheters.

Why I don’t watch Scary Movies

When I tell people that I don’t watch horror movies, I most often get looks like I am a freak of nature. Who doesn’t watch horror movies?!

Firstly, I am single and my only protection at home is a cat and a dead bolt lock. Every random noise I hear at home is blamed on the cat, even if she is asleep on my lap.

Also, I take scary movies way to seriously. The Blair Witch Project for example. Everyone said ‘That movie was so dumb!’ while I was the one sitting up all night with my back to the wall, my room lit up like a landing strip and a shotgun across my lap. Even if the movie is completely ridiculous, unlikely, and stupidly funny, I’ll laugh my way through it, and still be nervous when I go to bed.

Why don’t I want to watch Hostel? Because I like hostels.
“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?” The answer is in the question.
“The Hills Have Eyes?” No they don’t.
“The Ring?” I don’t want to be anymore afraid of a ring than I already am.
“The Grudge?” It’s scary enough to have one, I don’t need to see it on film.

Lastly, I don’t want to watch horror movies for the same reason I don’t watch the news. I have seen horrific things in real life. I have met unsavory characters, been down dark alleys, dealt with crazy people. I’ve seen things I’d rather forget. I have plenty of real things to be afraid of, I don't need any more.

The world is my Oyster

It was deceivingly cold as we headed into open water on one of the few remaining skipjacks in the Chesapeake. So cold, in fact, I was questioning my decision to leave my long underwear behind. But, we soon arrived at our dredging plateau. The motor of the dredge winch rumbled to life and all ambient noise (or lack thereof) was drowned out. Within minutes, the real oystermen aboard had pulled up the first dredge full of oysters, shells, mud and mussels, and dumped it onto the deck. The rest of us watched in frank fascination and soon found ourselves strangely enthusiastic about sifting through the pot with our gloved hands, kneeling in mud and sorting out the oysters of acceptable size. We happily ripped mussels off of the oyster shells and threw them overboard. Even as amateurs, we developed a real system quickly. Like a not so well oiled machine we would deploy the dredge, pull it up, dump it out, sort out the oysters, and send the dredge back down. While we waited, we’d clean and measure the oysters and put them in baskets.

I felt like I was in an episode of dirty jobs as I looked down at my wellies covered in mud, my jeans with mussel guts wiped on them, and my jacket splotched with rust and ocean floor. For a while I actually felt like I belonged, unafraid of getting dirty, smelly or injured, I just did the job.

Lunch finally came and the answer to the question that we had wondered all day was revealed: oyster stew. That was our lunch, of course. It was with much trepidation I took my hot cup of soup and eyed it skeptically. I felt momentarily squeamish as I stirred up a large oyster from my cup and really felt the skipjack swaying with the ocean.
The ideal of ‘when in Rome…’ was the absolute only thing that made me eat it. Well, that and the surprisingly large appetite I had worked up. Oysters are definitely gross to me, cooked or raw. Biting into it's gooey texture and looking on at our bushels of freshly dredged oysters, it was like when I was eating reindeer sausage while admiring a caribou grazing in its natural habitat, but I didn't feel nearly as guilty.

In the second half of the day the novelty of dredging was wearing off. I felt as proficient as a seasoned oysterman, and my respect for them grew with every passing moment. The heat that the winch was putting off was keeping me warm, and I was confident in my sea legs; I really had the hang of it. Although, I admittedly was using a little less discretion when deciding which oysters to keep and which to throw back as my energy for the task waned.

By the end of the day the whole group of us felt very accomplished with our maybe, 7 bushels of oysters. That was until the captain informed us that typical skipjacks can bring in 150 bushels a day! Our trip back to the marina was lovely as the clouds moved away and all we had were blue skies and a warming sun.

Oystering Pictures

Big Stick

Random thought of the day:
When I was in London, I heard them say ‘sharp scratch’ before they stuck someone with a needle. I thought to myself, that doesn’t make any sense. I mean, if getting an IV felt at all like being scratched by a cat, maybe it would make sense. If getting an IV involved merely scraping the needle against a persons skin, rather than sticking it in, I could justify using the phrase.

Then, I thought about what I say before starting an IV which is usually “big stick.” Upon further evaluation, I have decided that this doesn’t make any sense either. If it was like, ‘look out, there is a big stick about to fall on your head!’ then maybe it would make sense. If IV catheters were anywhere close to being the size of a big stick, rather than barely the diameter of a small twig, I could justify using the phrase.
I think a more appropriate use would be shouting “Big Stick!” right before whacking you on the head with my cudgel.
Thanks to wikipedia, I have learned that Teddy Roosevelt used what he called ‘big stick diplomacy’ as a campaign platform. By this he meant that America could be more, um, forceful with foreign policy and more often enlighten our neighbors to the wonders of democracy. This he developed from the saying "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Again, almost no connection at all to needles.

I digress.

If anyone reads this, I’m curious as to what you tell your patients right before stabbing them with a 16 gauge (and where you’re from, as maybe this influences things somehow). Thanks.

One Armed...

I haven’t exactly been a neglectful blogger as of late, but more of a busy one. In the last week every time it came down to choosing between sleep or any other activity, sleep won (except when the bike won). This was mostly because I worked 76 hours last week. Only eight of that was overtime, the rest was the start of my second job. As they say, I’ve been ‘busier than a one armed paper hanger’ but thankfully not actually hanging wallpaper.

My first few days have been typical really. I was lost, confused, and nervous. With this job it is more important that I know the ins and outs very well as when I am cleared, I will be cleared as a single provider. Which means that most times I’ll be acting as the only ALS provider on any given scene. This is enough to make me nervous as I will not have anyone else’s opinion to fall back on. Let alone the fact that I am very unfamiliar with the area, and don’t know any of the ambulance crews yet.
Overall, I am very excited about it. All of my coworkers seem like really cool people and have been very nice to me. It seems like a very laid back place, and yet very aggressive in terms of patient care, which is great.

On Halloween, I went trick or treating with the niece and nephews. I think that the whole concept of getting free stuff from strangers for doing nothing more than uttering three words, is completely mind blowing to them. As it should be.

On Saturday I learned how not to win at slots. Now, of course that wasn’t my initial goal. We tried lots of things to win. First we talked nice to them. “Big money, big money! Oh yeah!” “What a great machine you are, don’t you want to give us some money?!”
Well, when that didn’t work (and asking a penny slot machine for ‘big money’ is a little silly anyway) we started to be not so nice. “What is wrong with you? Why don’t you give us some money! You’re a sorry excuse for a slot machine!”
In conclusion, neither morale boosting nor berating won us much. It was still good fun, and we got to do some good people watching. First of all, I couldn’t believe the number of a. slots, and b. people playing them. Hundreds! What I didn't know was that slots go from betting one cent to five dollars, so it can add up quickly. What a racket! From just the four of us, the state probably made enough money to pave a few feet of highway or buy a few new magazine subscriptions for the local library.
You could tell that some people there were hard core into the slots. Dangerously so. We passed by several people who commanded at least two machines in a row and were wildly pressing the ‘repeat bet’ button.
Oh yeah, most of the slots are straight video, you don’t even have to pull the arm of the one armed bandit. I tried to stick to the traditional slots as I received great satisfaction from pulling the arm. Also, they all operate on vouchers. When you win, there is no great sight of money pouring from the machine. It adds it all up for you on the screen and then you can print out the voucher to get your money. This was weird and a little disappointing to me. I have made it my new goal to gamble with real coins somewhere and then fill the center console of my car with hundreds of quarters.

Other than that, I've been kayaking, rode the bike in the rain, beat Halo 3, and baked dessert.

Oh, I don't know

Firstly, some new pictures. Pictures that will more quickly describe what I have been up to in recent weeks than my slow updates will. Camping in PA, visiting Fallingwater, attending world championship horse pulling, mediating at Walden pond, visiting Maine, biking, kayaking, and butterfly stalking.

I have been busy lately and I start my new part time job this Tuesday (and there is much rejoicing.) I'm back on the 911 side of things in a hospital based chase car. And by chase 'car' I mean an F250 Super Duty extended cab that is totally pimp. Hopefully, as my available hours become more numerous, I can eventually leave my current job completely.

Speaking of the current job, I received one of the best greetings in the history of private ambulance transports: “We’ve cleaned up most of the blood.” Ooh, thought I, this has to be good. The patient was actually bleeding from their trach site. (the place where a permanent breathing tube is inserted into the neck) This is certainly not normal, especially as they had already suctioned about 300ml of blood from her airway. Blood was literally flowing from the incision site. The scariest part was that somehow this was not even classified as a Paramedic call. Well, it was a fun change of pace to actually do some skills and take a patient that really needed care.

Google search term of the week: “is work better than school”

Upon reading this, my initial thought was "Dear God, NO!" I reminisced about the awesomeness that is college. I would actually still be there if it weren't for the basic need of making money instead of spending it.
But, work can be very good too. Fun and educational, just like school. But who am I kidding, no one loves work. At least not like they loved school. Sometimes I wish I could go back to the utopian society that we created at school. Alas, time marches on and it becomes clear that one cannot live on rice krispie treats and Chinese food alone. Besides, super nerds like me will still hit the books, even after graduation.

Oh yeah, Kitty says 'hello' and 'give me some treats, human!'

Minor Details

Now, I love nurses as much as the next EMS provider (and I mean that), but sometimes they have their moments (as do I). We went for an OB call where the patient had apparently broken her water. She was only 17 weeks, so altogether a sad story. We arrived and the nurse was blatantly relieved. She was rushing me out in a faux polite manner, and her report consisted of the following. “XX year old female, 17 weeks, PROM, fetal heartrate confirmed on ultrasound, vitals are...(gestures to monitor), no contractions, estimated due date is in the paperwork. Any questions? Great.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa, lady. I asked a litany of questions and got hasty answers. The best of which came from when I asked if she was dilated. “Well, I didn’t do the exam so I don't know, but it doesn’t matter if she’s dilated, as she’s going to be induced anyway. So...(gives a look of how this question can be of any importance whatsoever and why am I still there asking pointless questions)”
“Right, but she’s not going to be induced in my ambulance.”
“(long sigh) Well, I can get the doctor if you’d like.”
“Yes, I would like that very much, thanks.”

The Best Medicine

It has been a rough last few months for me. A string of unfortunate and sad things have been the theme of the summer, beginning with the ending of my engagement in June.
From the start, everyone asked me what they could do to help. The answer was almost always nothing, as merely their asking was a comfort. When my minister asked what the church could do for me I told him: “Tell me that God is sad too.”

I have experienced a whole mess of realizations recently and I am going to pawn them off on you, dear reader. I don’t want to be preachy, and I know that this entry has no particular order, but I just want to get my thoughts down and maybe help others in the process.

I have been constantly wondering ‘When can I be over this? Is there a prescribed length of time?’ Unfortunately, there is no magic balm, nothing to make you go to bed sad and wake up feeling normal. There is no elixir to take the hurt away. Everyone says that the best remedy is time, but I have learned that it cannot be time alone. It is not just a matter or staring at a clock, counting days until you feel like yourself again.
Over the months, my sadness has been mostly replaced with anger, which I claim to be better. But the anger is beginning to undermine me. I have been trying to let it go. Although, it is proving difficult as I can’t seem to forget or forgive.

I came away from a recent encounter with the good feeling that the only person who has power over me, is me. I discovered that my sadness exists not for what I had but for what I thought I had.

After my epiphany while kayaking at the end of August, I turned my Claddagh ring back around; quietly offering my heart to someone else. Someone to take care of me, to go out with, hold me tight, to be my playmate. Someone that I can take care of, and give all of my love to. I feel like I have a lot to give.

Unfortunately, I feel that the trust I used to give away like candy is now damaged and in short supply. I’m not quite sure yet how this will affect my future relationships. I think that I will be more calculating and careful and a little more realism will be peppered in with my optimism.
I have recognized that I will never be the person I was before and abandoned the goal of returning there. Instead, I replaced that goal with the hope that I can become a better person than I was before. When we lose the desire to improve, we cease to exist.

Just because the worst is over, doesn’t mean that the rest isn’t hard.

Thanks to all of those who have been there for me when I needed to talk, to be distracted, to be left alone. Friends and family who asked how I was and then actually waited for an answer. Thanks to kayaks, and bikes, and nature. To aching muscles, mindless movies, and the internet. Thanks to my excellent coworkers as willingly or unwillingly, they listen and talk. They cheered me up and gave me good days when unbeknownst to them; I really needed it. Thanks to good music. Artists old and new, songs angry and sad, have acted as my therapists.

No, the cure cannot be time alone. It turns out that the greatest healer of life’s sorrows is life itself.

90 day review

On time 5
Cooperation 2
Appearance 3
Professionalism 3
Productivity 1
Patient care 5

Yes, that is my 90 day review. (5 being the best) No, it is not accurate. The “crappiest ambulance company on earth” uses a computer to formulate your review. ‘Computer’ as in some random software that the company bought on the street for five cents.
I inspected said computer for eyes, a mirror, or hidden camera and found none. Even so, I scored a 3 for appearance.

The bottom of the review said that by signing, it meant that I have read and understand the review. I asked, “Can I refuse to sign this? Or would that further lower my cooperation score?”

I took it to the guy above my supervisor and inquired into this idiocy. He said that I looked better than half of the employees there and I had been on for 26 hours and was going home, so I probably deserved more than a 3. I pointed out that I am an obsessive professional, (although I didn’t mention that it was really hard when you hate the job). He said that he would put together a real review. One done by real humans who are literate and have eyes and have met me.

To be honest, I don’t think that will ever get done. And, to be honest, I don’t care. I really don’t care what they think of me at that job. I just don’t want a future employer to call them and say, “Why did she get a 2 in cooperation?” and have them answer “I dunno, ‘cause the computer said so.”

I also don’t care because I hope to be leaving there soon. I have just taken a per diem job somewhere way better. I am assured that it will turn into a full time spot in a few months. With the crappiest ambulance company on Earth, I am just a shadow of a paramedic. I cannot wait to be a real one again.

Work and Such

Nothing makes me happier at work than seeing a stack of fresh sheets and having a full jar of cavicide wipes. In fact, aside from my partners, these are the only things that make me happy at work. I’m feeling a rant post coming up about my disdain for my job. Also, there will be more on its replacement. Something is finally in the works in terms of a better job. I have about 2 more weeks of paper shuffling before it is official, but I am, predictably, dead excited about a professional change.

Last week at work we got to go to prison. The prison. We picked up our patient who had pulled out his chest tube. “Didn’t that hurt?” I asked, “It was stitched in.” “No” he replied. On our way out, the officer we were with discovered a nerf football on the ground between the main wall and the actual jail. I guess that 30 feet of grass around the jail and a huge wall serve as additional deterrents from escape. I looked back at him and he was ripping the ball apart and inside it was tucked a small folding knife. I suppose it had been surreptitiously thrown into the prison grounds, its intended recipient would never get it now. I was pretty fascinated by the whole prison thing anyway, and the ball was just the icing on the cake. If I had seen a cake with a file baked into it, I would have lost it.

Last time I went kayaking I had a canoe rescue of sorts. I was pretty far out and I heard one of the rental canoes blowing their emergency whistle. The wind was blowing my way, so I was probably the only one that heard it. I immediately assumed that it was some young whippersnappers abusing their emergency whistle rights. As I got closer (some minutes later) I discovered that it was two canoes floating near the edge of the water. A woman in one of them asked me for help. They didn’t appear to be in any distress, they weren’t falling in or tipping wildly, she just said that they were ‘stuck.’ As I got the whole story, they were not physically stuck, they just couldn’t get anywhere. As we were talking, her companion in the other boat, yelled to her son a panicky “Don’t rock the boat!” Sadly, the fun of their outing was coming to an end. I assured them I’d get someone, but it may take awhile as we were still quite a way from the boat rental. I finally found an employee about 10 minutes later and they were happy to go rescue them in their motor boat. “Rescue boat Pisgah 1, in service.”

I have also added a handful of pictures online. They are of some flowers I found when I went kayaking. Manual zoom while in a kayak is a bit tricky. I didn’t even notice the praying mantis on the one flower until I had taken its picture a few times.

Other than that I explored aimlessly, drove through a creek, and actually watched the sunset for the first time in way too long.

Google search term of the day: “can you weigh 8 stone to be a model?” Okay, 8 stone is 112 pounds. It sounds like this question was asked because 8 stone sounded like it might preclude one from becoming a model. If this is true (which it probably is), it is pretty sad for society (and, there goes my modeling career).

Lessons in mountain biking

Recently, I finally hit some real mountain biking trails. I feel that I have been missing out on something truly great. I completely get it. Already I have accomplished things on the bike that I never thought possible. It seems that whatever appears on the trail in front of me, I will get past it. Every log, every rock, every root I (for lack of a better technical term) boofed, I laughed out loud. For every root or rock, I (for lack of a better technical term) ‘foobed’, I had a great smile on my face. I am loving it. In just a few trips, I have learned a lot.

Clearance is only as high as your lowest pedal (which can be quite low).

Wheels have more than one master: you and the terrain.

You can go too slow.

You can go too fast (well, that's what I hear, but I haven't really tested it yet)

Biking can be a full body workout.

It is an amazing feeling to have your every fiber totally focused on not dying.

Adrenaline is not having a car whiz by you on a hill with a blind curve, it is picking your way down a steep, rocky slope and letting go of the brake.

Camelbaks can keep water cold for hours.

I love that surviving the down hills can feel like just as big an accomplishment as conquering the up hills.

Taking up something physical was absolutely the best thing to do. I have literally felt anger melt away.

What goes down, must come up.

Getting over the fear, trusting myself, and to a greater extent, the bike, is just awesome.

I talk to myself a lot when I am working hard.

In mountain biking, you don't have the time to sit back and check out the other guys stuff. You pass in a blur, exchanging a quick greeting, or a knowing nod, that yeah, this is tough. In kayaking you can hold entire conversations in passing, while discovering the brand and model of their boat, paddle, pfd, even their water bottle choice. In biking all I see is that they have a bike, maybe a helmet, and they are going a lot faster than I am.

Bike shorts are great...which leads me to the spandex.

Spandex

It has been widely believed for the last 24 years that the likelihood of Ellie wearing spandex was equal or less than that of a staunch vegan wearing leather.

But, after 14 miles or so on those tiny standard issue bike seats, it was clear that something must be done. So, I dug out that gel seat cover from a few years ago. This gave a marginal amount of relief. Still, it was becoming apparent that real bike shorts were in order.
That’s right, bike shorts, the ones made of spandex with that huge padded crotch, shorts that couldn't show any more unless they were painted on, the garment which is generally not acceptable to be worn in public. But, oh how times have changed. They now make what are called ‘baggy bike shorts.’ This is an absolute brilliant concept of taking the standard bike short, and then covering them up with regular shorts. When worn properly, no one knows that the spandex is there! They're even suitable for public viewing. Small children will not be scarred for life, and no elderly people will suddenly be stricken ill as you pass.

Once I made this discovery, I was off to find a pair. Sadly, my old favorite store has lost its luster as of late. But that’s okay, I found these 'phantom' bike shorts at another store. They are, like many things, too expensive, but let me tell you, they are worth every penny!
I never thought that I would ever, ever wear spandex, or even a product remotely resembling spandex. And, I'm sorry for those of you who just lost bets. But these shorts are great.

Silly Catface!

My brother moved to NYC last week and I acquired about 20 paintings, 5 boxes of books, some tools, and a cat. Yes, I am a sucker and yes, loving your family can get you into trouble.

I am a cat person, but I did not go right out and get one when I moved. I think that I fear permanence. No matter, a free cat with all related accessories is a welcome addition to my, well, kind of lonely apartment. For the first day or so she was completely horrible, hissing and swatting at me whenever we were in the same room. I gave her a pretty sweet set up in my bathroom and bedroom. I bought her treats and toys. I really wanted to win her over. Turns out all she needed was time. Just last night she emerged from her fortress in the bathroom and slept on the bed. I was quite happy.

My brother cannot be trusted to name pets. To my knowledge he has named three cats. “Little Cat” who was, consequently, little, “Fatty McBlack” who, surprisingly, was fat and black, but not Scottish. And, now I have “Kitty” who is, in fact, a kitty.
I suppose that I’m going to stick with this highly original name. I could change it, but she has been Kitty for so long it would have to be something that started with a hard “K” sound. Kindle, Crackhead, Kickboxer, Kit-Kat, are a few possibilities.
I am partial to calling her Catface after the Weebls-Stuff cartoon of the same name. She looks quite a bit like the cartoon, and as it spends most of it’s time lighting shopkeepers on fire, stealing grannies, and insulting humans, I think it’s a good fit. “You are very funny, you talk and all I hear is silliness.” it quips in a French accent. So, in my mind, Kitty is French and very strange indeed.

Shopping

I don’t normally drown my sorrows in a sea of retail, but I have been doing a lot of shopping lately. More than ever, especially after getting my own apartment and realizing that I had pretty much nothing in the way of furniture or anything generally useful.

I love and hate shopping. Everyone loves getting new stuff; clothes, chips, yogurt flavors, the accessory that you didn't know you needed until you saw it in the store. I especially like online shopping, but I think that’s mostly because I love getting things in the mail.
Shopping also makes me go insane. For example: super Wal-mart. This is a store with just too much stuff in it. It is both convenient and overwhelming to me that I can get groceries, plants, windshield wiper fluid, socks, and a DVD player in the same place. Here, and in any number of stores, I can find myself agonizing over the most ridiculous minutiae. For me, there are just too many choices. I can stand for long minutes in the paper aisle and debate with myself if I want super soft toilet paper or super strong. “They’re both the same price, but this one claims to be softer. Okay, I’ll feel it...now I have to feel the other one…they feel the same. Well, this one has quilting. What does quilting do anyway? Do I need super strong? It’s not like I’m going build a bridge with it.”

It goes on and on; double rolls, singly ply or double, mega rolls (whatever that means), value size, with or without George Bush’s face on it, super absorbent. In the end, who really cares anyway?! They all do the same job. After wondering just how long I had been standing there I blindly grabbed one off the shelf and threw it into the cart.

And it’s not just toilet paper, it’s everything! Ice creams that boast 10 less calories per serving than the other guys, very young peas or just young peas, low fat, reduced fat, or less fat chips, pasta shapes, egg sizes, different types of salad in a bag. I can smell different flavors of shave gel over and over for 5 whole minutes before deciding on the same flavor I always get. I don't need so many choices.

I don’t know why these decisions are so difficult to me.

Conversely, with clothes, I am very decisive. I never know what I want, but I definitely know what I don’t want. I can blast through a rack of clothing faster than anyone I know. The commentary is usually “hate it, hate it, hate it, has potential, hate it, hate it…) When I’m shopping for clothes, I subconsciously allot myself one trip into the changing room, even if I have to bring in 20 items (although I think I'm only allowed 6), it's one trip. In and out.


Recently I went to an organic market. The store was full of yuppies carrying their starbucks, toting their children wearing organic clothing paying $8 for a box of cereal. What is organic clothing? And why does it cost so much more than non organic clothing? I am not, by any means, on the organic bandwagon. But, I bought some apples, and absolutely the most effing delicious croissants this side of the Atlantic! I was almost mad that they were so good, as for some reason, I don’t want to believe that organic food is different than regular food. But they were so good….

Ooh, sorry, I got lost in a fantasy about biting into a crunchy and squishy croissant.

Overdue biking post

I have been biking quite a lot lately. I’ve been on the road (as opposed to the trail) to build up my endurance. Road biking is pretty cool. It’s not nearly as tedious as I envisioned. I can map out different routes depending on how I feel, or how long I have, and see something different every day. I try to stick to the less traveled roads for safety’s sake.
Aside from the occasional nice view, road biking is basically ups and downs. In the area around my house it seems that I am either coasting down a hill or struggling up one. This I love and hate.
It is an amazing feeling to be pedaling furiously up a steep hill, clicking into a lower gear, while the bike is only advancing inches, head down, all muscles united in a common goal; to crest that hill. I will note tiny landmarks, “just make it to that mailbox, that rock, that driveway.” I question constantly if I will actually make it without stopping. I promise myself that I’ll drink water and rest at the top. I decide to have ice cream after dinner. I pedal until all that matters is climbing that hill and all other thought is gone. But suddenly, I’ve done it. It’s odd because the whole time I’m thinking that I can’t, I am actually doing it. I did it while trying to talk myself out of it.

Road biking is also nice because after the up hills, there is undoubtedly a nice rest opportunity as I glide down the other side. A time to catch my breath and stretch one leg at a time. This never happens in mountain biking. But that’s another post.

Oh, Death

It is inevitable and yet still manages to sneak up on you. Sometimes, death appears so quickly that even it is surprised to be there. Although, it can also linger in the background, waiting and waiting for the opportune moment.

In the end, I think that we all want generally the same thing; to go quietly, without a fuss, to feel satisfied, complete, that our work is done, and especially to have our loved ones feel comfortable. These things are, of course, very difficult to measure, and I would guess that only a small percentage of people actually get the death they envision. Or maybe I’m wrong.

I have been directly and indirectly involved in deaths of all types; murder, negligence, trauma, respiratory arrest, suicide, miscarriage, cardiac arrest. I have taken people from their homes to hospice, caressed the foot of a dying baby, withheld intervention, performed pointless CPR, told people their mother was dead. Unfortunately, none of this has made death any easier. I wish that these experiences had given me great insight, the perfect thing to say to comfort my mourning friends, but they have not. I still do what anyone else does, console as best I can, and just plain be there, somehow knowing when to talk and when to listen.

Most deaths I believe could be safely categorized as unfair. And by unfair, I mean untimely. I have seen far too many untimely deaths. Saying that a death is a relief can seem a bit barbaric to me as it is fairly rare to experience a timely death. Although, I do believe it is possible, and I have seen it.
I’d rather feel a bit barbaric than to say that a death is ‘meant to be’ or ‘for a reason’ as this is absolute crap.

It is nice to sense that the deceased is in a ‘better place’, whatever that may mean. Which leads me to the true subject of this entry. My Grandfather died last weekend. It wasn’t a surprise exactly, but it was still shocking when I heard it.
I definitely see him with my Grandmother whom he adored, wearing a watermelon colored button down shirt and a silly bucket hat. They must be in Florida wading on the beach, or in their old kitchen with us on a lazy Sunday afternoon eating Little Caesars pizza and drinking Pepsi.

It is interesting when someone in your life dies, you can’t help but relive all the memories you have of them. These memories will forever connect you. In the end they are all we truly have, our greatest inheritance, our greatest legacy.

Do you have a receipt for that?

On Saturday, for some reason (what I lovingly refer to as) the 'Crappiest ambulance company on Earth' was really busy. I hate when that happens. Well, I don't usually mind, but weekends are usually slow. Calls were apparently stacked up from here to kingdom come and everyone was freaking out. Everyone, except for me. They make their own bed, so I won't lose sleep over them scheduling 5 calls when they only have 3 trucks available. But, ironically, I did lose actual sleep over it. Oh well.

My regular partner was shipped over to our sister company because they were understaffed as well. So, my partner for the evening was a CRT (I) who is a nice guy, but is partially deaf, and also a mumbler. Basically I couldn't understand a damn thing he was saying, and he couldn't understand a damn thing I was saying. I hated asking him to repeat himself, because I didn't want him to think I was making fun of him, so there were a lot of hanging questions, random polite laughter, and odd silences.

We were sent to a call, and when we got there, they paged us to a call we could do right after. Ooh, that makes me mad. We hadn't even made patient contact, and they're sending me another call.
We got to the next call, which was taking someone from hospital to nursing home; a simple discharge.
When we arrived at the nursing home, we were told that they don't accept new admissions that late in the day (11pm). Um, this is ludicrous, says I, the patient is right here, just take him! They refused, and I was unwilling to get into it with them. We called our already overwhelmed dispatcher who called the sending hospital. They agreed to take the patient back. Uh! I couldn't believe the idiocy! So, we drove all the way back, had to check into the ER briefly (where the charge nurse said "We can't take him back!") and brought him back to his room. Full circle.

This has never happened to me before, and if it happens again, I'm afraid that I will freak right out.

Future posts: adventures in kayaking and biking. Evil hills and rescuing canoeists. Oh, and glamour shots of the bike, once I get them online.

An unexpected post.

Caution: theology ahead.

I was finally kayaking again. With the truck back, and the weather cooperating, I was back on the water, and it felt great. I went to a lake that is relatively new to me. It’s pretty big, with plenty to explore, and tons of great flora and fauna. My trip took an oddly philosophical turn.

I was in the middle of the lake, paddling along, and I was suddenly struck with emotion. I felt so full of sorrow, and unexpectedly, I found myself asking God for help. Help for everything; to be unafraid, to move on, to be the person I want to be, to trust again.
I poured out my fears to Him. I asked for forgiveness for the first time in my life. Forgiveness for being such a fool, forgiveness for all the mistakes I’ve made, for not fulfilling my potential. I was paddling, and crying, and praying. Frankly, activities I rarely combine. Even though most of what I was feeling was remorse and sadness, there was hope too. I could feel it.

What is odd, is that I don’t even believe in divine intervention, but I couldn’t help feeling very close to Him, closer to God than I ever have in church. At the very least, I felt like someone was listening.

Of course, I don’t know why this happened. Maybe because kayaking has always been a bit of a spiritual activity for me. One with nature and all that. But I also think that kayaking and I have so many good memories. And when I was out on the water, I could feel bitterness mixed with those good memories, and that realization overwhelmed me with sadness. I was (and am) so afraid that the bitter feeling would linger, that it led me ask for help.
Now that I write it down, it makes a lot of sense. I don’t want to lose the things that make me, me. And I won’t.

I continued to paddle on blindly and when I finally stopped, breathing hard from exertion, I looked up. There, where the water met land, stood a deer and her twin fawns drinking from the lake. I stopped and watched them intently for long minutes, lost in Gods gifts. I was so thankful to be alive in that moment, observing these creatures who unbeknownst to them, were giving me such great comfort.

I will still feel the pang of what might have been, but I think, thanks to this trip, I’ve turned a corner of sorts. My heart feels lighter.
I’m ready for more kayaking.

Refusal

We had a call to take a patient from a nursing home to the ER for "abdominal issues." We went through the typical motions; go upstairs, get the story from the nurse, ensure that paperwork is in order, ensure that the nurse called the ER, and go to get the patient. We were sharply interrupted from this routine when we entered the patients room and she began to shout "I'm not going! I'm not going! I'm not going!"
The story was that she had a colostomy recently, and when the wound was checked that day, it appeared that it was opening, and about to become an abdominal evisceration. (basically when your insides get on the outside...which, obvious to normal humans; is not good)

We greeted her politely, and I asked her where she was, what day it was, etc. And to me, she was of sound mind. I told the nurse that if she continued to refuse, we could not take her. The nurse said "OH, she'll go!" At one point, there were at least six staffers in her room trying to convince her to go. She was still vehement about not going. Once they gave up, I went into the room and sat down.
"So, how have you been?" I started. I figured that if I could get her to say anything other than 'I'm not going!' that I could maybe convince her to go. I learned she'd been married for 32 years, had two cats, where she used to work, what her husband did for a living, and that they told her she would probably go home in October. Rapport building is good stuff. I asked her why she didn't want to go to the ER. She admitted that she got dizzy when she was moved. I assured her that we would do all we could to prevent that.
I told her, which usually works, that if I were her, I would go to the hospital. "I know you're afraid of getting admitted, and not getting back home when you want to, but if you don't address this now, your recovery will be seriously delayed. If this doesn't get fixed, you will get a horrible infection that could kill you."
When sugar coating things doesn't work, I try frankness. But this lady wasn't buying any of it. "I feel fine." she insisted. "Yes, you may feel fine now, but you are not fine." I insisted back.

Meanwhile, staff were appearing out of nowhere: nurses, doctors, administrators. I told them I had done all I could, not listening to reason did not make her incapable of making decisions and refusing. I could not legally take her. One nurse said that she always refuses stuff, like dressing changes, "But we do them anyway." Dressing changes and taking someone to a different hospital are two totally different things, I assure her. I can tell they are getting irritated, but after that moronic statement, I am too. I told them we could give ten more minutes to get her to say 'yes.'
"Until she says 'yes' to transport, I cannot take her."

For the next ten minutes, they ran around making phone calls to various people. I told my dispatch what was going on, and then I went back to the patients’ room. We had another nice chat that unfortunately yielded nothing. She still refused completely. I was hoping that the nursing home could find somebody she trusted to tell her that she should go. A doctor, a nurse she liked, the surgeon, her husband, anybody. Alas, all of their phone calls led to nothing.
She happily signed my refusal, although, I told her that just because we were leaving, didn’t mean that the nursing home was giving up on her.

We left with the facility reeling, and the patient happily watching TV while slowly developing a deadly infection.

Fixed! (reprise)

Today the truck returned to me and was given a clean bill of health. Well, except that the tires are dry rotted, and there is still that damn ding in the windshield. To celebrate, we went out and got new tires. The ding, I’ll have to address tomorrow.
This whole stupid accident only took 22 days and 48+ hours of labor to resolve. I’m here to issue a public apology to the truck for causing it to have such a long hospital stay. I am shamed.

But we are now reunited…cut to flashback of Ellie running across the parking lot. Cut to the truck sitting in its parking space. Cut to Ellie running across the parking lot, arms wide. Cut to the truck sitting in its parking space. Cut to Ellie running across the parking lot, eyes welling with tears. Cut to the truck sitting in its parking space. Cut to Ellie lovingly embracing the hood of the truck. Cut to the truck sitting in its parking space while Ellie hugs it. (the embrace becomes uncomfortably long) Cut to Ellie slowly realizing that she has attracted a crowd. She backs away from the truck.
“I, uh,” she stammers, “I really like this truck.” She whispers in an attempt to justifiy her actions; more to herself than anyone else. So happy to see it restored to its former glory.

It went something like that. Now the kayak season can resume.
May the truck take me on many more of this life’s adventures.

An eventful day

Last shift, amazingly I had an interesting day at work. We started the day out with a NICU transport. This wasn’t really a big deal, as the baby was being transferred to a hospital closer to its parents because it was getting better. Wait. This was actually a happy story! We got the baby there and all was well, but on the way back, we broke down. The truck started to idle like a Harley and was pouring out black exhaust. It was decided for us to stop and get towed. After a series of ridiculous events, including the always morale boosting sight of our ambulance on a tow truck, we found ourselves stranded briefly in a parking lot. This would have been fine if it hadn’t been 95 degrees out and we didn’t have a cot full of several thousands of dollars worth of equipment on it. What I liked the most about being broken down was that this particular truck was on its first day back after about 5k worth of work to the engine and a month of being out of service. We were rescued and got back to real work.

We took a very pleasant veteran to rehab after he had broken is foot. He was very spry and nice to talk to. I have high hopes for his recovery. On our transport though, we did have an episode of ‘runaway cot’. The cot is supposed to be locked into the ambulance before we transport. Unfortunately, this time it was not properly secured, and the first turn we took sent the cot rolling into me. I deftly grabbed the cot and in one swift motion slammed it into its holder and sat back down as if nothing had happened. The patient took it very well. One other time this happened to me, I nearly broke my leg trying to save myself from the rolling cot.

Next we went to do a typical BLS run, taking a person from the hospital back to their nursing home. We arrived and the patient was ambulatory, usually a good omen for such calls, as this makes it much easier, usually. I got the paperwork and my partner went to get the patient.
When I got into the room, the patient and his nurse were having an argument. Good omens gone. There was a random Frankenstein size orthopedic shoe that the patient was insisting was his. This is an easy fix, I thought, as I asked him to put on the shoe. He obliged, and slipped on the shoe that was easily 4 sizes too large, and began to walk around. I think that he believed this was proving to us that it was a good fit, which it was not. He took the shoe off, still convinced it was his, and resumed arguing with the nurse about where all his stuff was (neatly packed in a patient belongings bag). He was vexing me big time. He challenged all of my negotiation skills; reason, bargaining, and force. I asked the nurse what he was in the hospital for, she said confusion. Oh, I’m glad you cleared that up.

At one point the hospital staff manhandled him onto the cot and buckled the straps. They thought they were very accomplished and looked to my partner and me for approval. My partner said, ‘uh, we’re not taking him’, as the patient began to wriggle out of the seatbelts. I asked the nurse to get us orders for restraints or drugs, or we would have to leave without him. Just as that was happening, the patient suddenly was totally compliant. I was surprised and more than a little skeptical, but off we went. He didn’t say another word, and I was, for once, happy to have a quiet patient.

While this was going on, one of the other ambulances was broken into. They were parked right next to us at an ER downtown in plain view of the doors, in broad daylight. Apparently, a thief had smashed the drivers window, jumped in, and stole a GPS navigation system that was suction cupped to their windshield. The door wasn’t even unlocked.
I don’t know why I’m still surprised by crime sometimes. But really, stealing from an ambulance?!

Google search term of the day: ‘photos of old people working in grocery store’ Sorry, fresh out.

Fixed!

The prodigal bike has returned! I brought it into the bike shop yesterday, and after a little assessment the bike guy said: "You want to know how many times I've seen this? Never."
I'm not sure if that makes me feel better or worse. Turns out that the broken part was not exactly what he thought it would be. A rear derailleur can break, if abused, and usually at this one particular spot. It's usually pretty detrimental to the bike as it can bend into the wheel and cause damage to the rim as well. And it's about a $40 part. As my derailleur broke at the bolt, it was very strange, apparently, and we decided it was a factory defect.

So, he replaced the whole thing, and expanded my knowledge of bike maintenance by about 500%. That afternoon I took it for a nice long ride, and everything was working great.

Also, I started a part time job, made headway into finding a new full time job, ran into an old friend, and made and old cat happy.

Blogged too soon

Mere hours after my last post, I went to take the bike out, planning to visit my brother. I hopped off of one curb. A standard sized curb, nothing out of the ordinary, it didn’t have spikes, or sharp edges, or, um, anything that could be thought to be detrimental to the common human powered bicycle. The back tire came off the curb, and immediately something was wrong. The chain was hanging languidly from the gears. Damn! I thought, the chain fell off, I’ll never get it back on!
Closer inspection revealed that something was far more amiss than the chain falling off. What I now know to be the rear derailleur, had broken completely off. Literally, the bolt holding it to the frame, snapped. I looked around, and found pieces of the bike that had fallen off and were strewn in the road.

Clearly beyond my skills to heal, I went back upstairs and called the bike shop. This is where I learned that I don’t have much of a bike vocabulary at all. “The, um, thing connected to the gears, on the back wheel, is kind of, um, not connected anymore, and...it’s that thing, that has little gears on it...you see, there’s the wheel...” Thankfully, my bike guy knows his stuff, and diagnosed it from that horrible description.
Now, I didn’t go to a large retail store to get a new bike. “I’m going to get a brand name, made to last, with good parts, I’m not going to wimp out on this,” I said to myself. I went to the nice local bike shop, which I haven’t lost faith in. I am concerned, though, that my two week old bike has a broken part.
This also happened about 10 min before the bike shop closed. So, I’m headed there tomorrow morning. I ended up walking to see my brother. It took way longer, but it was my only replacement for the bike. I felt like Pee-Wee when his bike was stolen. Everyone I passed on my walk was riding a bike. Everyone! I refrained from shouting "Showoff!!" at all of them.

First I break my car, then I break my bike…my legs feel pretty good, but maybe they should be worried.

Let's go ride bikes!

For my birthday, I bought myself a new bike. I remember clearly my last birthday bike. It was white and pink, I was dead excited, and I rode the hell out of that thing. I think that I was eight.
My last bike was a no frills bike and it served me well, but it was time for something new. So, I went down to a local bike shop and they gave me the hook ups with an ’08 Specialized Myka. (pictured above, although, I can tell you, it looks a lot better with mud caked on it.)
I don’t really know much about bike brands, but it has front RockShox, and most of the other components are made by Shimano. I didn’t get disc brakes, because, well, they add almost $200 to the price. Maybe one day I’ll upgrade and get them installed.
Since my birthday, I’ve taken it out everyday that I haven’t worked. We've had a lot of bonding time as I only work once every four days. I’ve found lots of fun things to do with it around my house, some nice steep climbs and a little creek that is great fun to ride through. Otherwise, I’ve just been exploring and I've learned that riding in construction sites is as fun as I always thought it would be.
In the last couple weeks I have lost a lot of the trepidation I felt about going off road, which is a nice feeling. It’s also nice to feel a marked improvement in my endurance and skill. It takes a lot longer for me to go into SVT (and less time to recover).
Anyway, I’m very happy to have found a new activity. Especially one that can get me outside while I can’t take the kayak out. I think that doing something physical has been very therapeutic for me.

Oh yeah, I do find the irony in buying a bike right after wrecking my truck.

An unrelated side note: Thank you for all of the good vibes I’ve been feeling from my few regular readers. I am very touched and blessed. Slack, Jen, Maddog, Andy, Ichabod, Tara (via facebook), Kaydie, and Jamie, thank you! Anybody else, post a comment, I’d love to get to know you!

Old Pictures

I'm a little behind in posting pictures, to say the least. Considering that the last time I added, it was February, and that most of the new NH pictures are wintry scenes. But, there are pictures of me be being totally BA and bustin' a cap w/my 9. Fo sho! I love that you can see the shell casing flying in this pic, sweet!

Also, I added some pics of kayak spots. Mostly pictures of Great Falls, VA. Okay, so calling this a 'kayak spot' is stretching it, but people do kayak it. Just not me. There are pictures of wild ponies on Assateague island taken from the Chincoteague bay. You can call them all Misty.

New Hampshire Winter

Kayak Spots

Birthday Lessons

Things I’ve learned

Providing your children with everything they need is not always the best course.
Times of crisis help the important things show through.
To feel loved and cared for is truly all I need to survive.
Facing what you fear the most makes you a stronger person. I mean, it has to.
An inherent need for independence is essential.
Bitter people amuse me.
False people make me angry.
Sometimes you can give someone everything and it is still not enough. These people should not haunt you.
I am tired of crying.
Unconditional love is hard to come by; it should not be squandered.
It is easier to be angry than to be sad.
Kayaking is still the greatest activity known to man.
Fishing gear can be replaced.
Life is hard.
I love my family immensely. There are not proper words to tell it.
My insurance deductible is $250.
J.K. Rowling is a genius.
Getting flowers always feels nice.
Life is good.
It’s okay to feel confident and to feel afraid.
I can make dinner.
I am ready.

Things I have yet to learn


How to find a date.
Countless future lessons.
What to do now.

Searching for silver linings

This weekend I should have packed it in, stayed in bed, and eaten ice cream like I wanted to. I worked on Saturday, and most of it was overtime which was nice. My only complaint is an odd one; I was bored most of the day. Okay, all of the day, except when I was sleeping.

I generally avoided thinking about what the day could have been. I marked it in increments of time, and it passed. Hours good and bad will always pass. I left work and headed home.
On the highway, I got a ding in my windshield. Rock versus glass made that painful little ‘crack!’ and I knew it had left a mark. To illustrate how I have been more myself lately, I only emitted one curse word, and decided to call someone to fix it on Monday. I surprised myself with my calmness and I took heart in it. The incident with the bug must have calmed my angered nerves.

Later, I went to have lunch with some NH friends who were in town for, well, nothing. It was very nice as six of us ended up hanging out for most of the afternoon catching up and reliving old times.
I headed home for the second time that day. As I headed down the highway, I drove into a wicked rain storm. I have seriously not seen rain like that in a long time. Traffic had slowed in general as visibility was seriously decreased. I was in the ‘fast’ lane and following the road down an incline when I saw a state trooper pulled over and another car in the middle of the median ahead. As anyone does when they see a cop ahead, I checked my speed and found it acceptably under the limit.

Without warning, as these things happen, I felt that my back tires were no longer acquainted with the road surface. I attempted to compensate and stayed out of my neighboring lane, but ended up doing a 180 into the car that was in the median, narrowly missed the trooper, and came to rest facing the wrong direction in the median against the guardrail.
A lot of things seemed to happen at once. A quick head-to-toe of myself, putting the car in park and turning it off, and getting out to assist the poor sap who was in the car I hit. The trooper met me before I could get out completely, and asked if I was okay. “Yeah,” I replied, “I’m a paramedic, is he okay? Are you okay?” They were both fine. But I thought it was funny that I sort of felt that saying I was a paramedic exempted me from being hurt. I feel like I could have had my arm off and as long as I assured everyone that I was a paramedic, no one would question me.
Meanwhile, it was raining buckets, and in the few minutes I was outside the truck, I was absolutely soaked. From what I could tell, the truck was okay, although I could only see one side of it. I still felt shocked when the trooper said I could drive it away, as long as I had four wheel drive. Ironically, the other car had just been in a wreck, which is why it was in the middle of the median. I know I did damage to it, but it already being messed up was small consolation for me.
After handing over the necessary documents, I spent 5 minutes locating my phone which somehow got into the backseat. I then put my seatbelt back on and called my mom.
It’s amazing how quickly one can say: ‘I’vebeeninanaccidentandI’mokay’ to someone. It’s also amazing how the paramedic in me can take over and make me sound perfectly calm when I felt absolutely not calm.

I was not given a ticket, although getting one might have helped to assuage my guilt.
I tentatively pulled out of what was now a seasonal river in the median, and got back on the highway. Luckily, I was close to home and drove straight to a body shop. The damage seemed to be mostly cosmetic. You could definitely feel it was damaged and there was wet grass absolutely everywhere.
My parents picked me up, and randomly, we went to my brother’s café, as I needed ice cream, stat. We stayed there for a while. I attempted to reconstruct the scene using a key, a penknife, and some cough drops. As I did, I realized how much I missed in the mere seconds of the accident. For example, I have no idea what I hit with the drivers side of my truck. It will remain a mystery. Then, my sister and her family arrived, and we all hung out together. It had been a long time since we had this opportunity, and it was wonderful.

Sometimes the silver lining is hard to find. Sometimes the advantages of crappy situations people come up with are silly and petty. For example, not having to go to the DMV this week to get my Maryland plates is not a silver lining to this.
Unlike other recent events in my life the silver lining in this was obvious. I could have killed people. I could have killed a state trooper. I could have flipped over, and I’m not quite sure what stopped me. The truck could have been totaled. I could have been injured, a lot.

So, here I am, breathing in and out, putting one foot in front of the other as best I can, looking for somewhere to put my sadness.
Life can be unpredictable and confusing, but never dull. Shit.

A crisis

I am no stranger to crisis. I am a stranger, however, to personal crisis. But, when I have a call that bothers me, for example, I recite the mantra that I am having a normal reaction to an abnormal situation and I deal with it. (yay for CISM, lol)
I have been dealing with what I believe I can safely call a big personal crisis over the last few weeks. This, unfortunately magnifies anything else smaller going on in my life. Tonight, something very physically small indeed.

I went to get a coke to get me through my marathon reading of Harry Potter, and discovered what I believed to be the largest roach I had ever seen. Even in my Baltimore City days, I saw roaches more in large volumes, but never one this size. I, of course, scared it and watched in horror as it ran under the refrigerator.
I was immediately in crisis mode. First, I ran to the bedroom to get the sturdiest shoes I could find, and rolled up my pant legs. Then I fished my Maglight out of my camping gear. Whether I wanted to illuminate the situation with it, or beat the roach into the floor with it, I was undecided. Tentatively, I shined the light under the fridge, revealing nothing. Then the oven, again fruitlessly. I then weaved a tapestry of profanity that will be hanging over my street for years to come.
I went to old reliable google and found a great picture of it. Yep, it was looking more and more like a roach. So, I called my mom. She suggested roach spray, obviously, so I marched up to the grocery store which is a short walk from my house. On the way there, I found myself muttering insane ramblings to myself, and generally looking crazy. I realized that I was absolutely furious with this creature. Its only crime, existence.
I found some spray, and carried it back in the grocery bag as if it were a bag of nickels, and I was ready to thrash somebody with it if the need arose. I thought about that movie where the girl gets a bug in her ear and goes insane. Maybe that had already happened. That could explain why I couldn’t stop mumbling to myself about killing bugs.
I got up to my apartment and open the door, and there was an ant. An ant! I pulled out my spray, and even if the spray didn’t kill it, the drowning would. I then set my sights on the kitchen. I sprayed the hell out of under the fridge and surrounding area. I felt like it was salt to ward off witches and if I just made a proper perimeter, I would be safe.
After becoming intoxicated in spray fumes, my dad called me and offered to come over to check it out. Thank God he did. He arrived, armed with a broom and a yard stick, bless him. He thoroughly investigated under the appliances, and even pulled out the refrigerator. A very fruitful action, as after he sprayed the crap out of behind the fridge, the little guy ran out and tried to escape. I flew into full on girl mode and yelled, “There it is!! Kill it!!” This, from a person who is usually as passive as a Quaker. I'm not sure what stopped me from grabbing the broom and leaping onto the nearest chair. Thankfully, my father threw down his enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountainside...or the kitchen floor.

I have convinced myself for now that this was an isolated incident and we will never speak of it again.

Crisis averted.

An update, really.

I feel compelled to write a little update. I love to write, and I love to have something to write about. Amazingly, my interfacility job gave me two interesting calls to write about. I haven't written those down yet, so this update is literally that; an update.

I feel like things are a little better for me. I have moved into my own apartment, and I've turned a big, empty room into a living space that I really enjoy being in.

I actually did some calls at work that made me feel worthwhile. I didn't expect that, and I hope it continues.

I know that I am not alone. Love and hope and wisdom are all around me. I love to find them. I love to find them in unexpected places.

Recently, I've felt hungry. I guess it's a good thing as I hadn't felt hungry for about a month. I've also cooked things and I hope to continue to expand my culinary skills outside the realm of hot pockets and peanut butter burritos.

I feel like I am having fewer bad days. Or, the bad days are getting easier to tolerate. I'm not sure which. Sometimes I can't even tell if I've feeling sad or angry.

Things may not be going the way I hoped they would, but it seems more like things are just not going they way I thought they would. I think that having to accept that has been very difficult.
In the past I have set goals and made plans, I always had a direction. It is a very odd place for me to be; not carrying out a plan I made. Having to admit to myself that it was not the best plan, and then to realize that without it I had almost nothing to go on, was awful.
But I know now that even though I might not have a plan, I will never be without purpose. A purpose of my choosing, that my every day should be based upon. I also know that when I least expect them, plans will emerge, like they always have.

Questionable Progress

It's been nearly a month since my last update now.
Things in my life aren't going they way I hoped they would, to say the least. It's amazing how quickly ones life can change. I knew exactly where my life was going. I was nearing the best thing so far; the thing I believed would bring me unparalleled happiness.
But, in seemingly an instant, I now find myself with no direction.
I am lost.

So, my work in progress, I feel has stalled. I do have a new job, unfortunately it has, well, not been that awesome. In the next couple weeks I'll have a new apartment, and from there I hope I can sort out my new life. Although, it's not what I expected.

I'm not going to stop the blog, I will try to write more.

I bought a couch. And a kitchen table.

It was hard to do it alone.

Lots of things are hard.

I'd like hope or closure, as I have neither.

I've gotten lots of advice lately, some of it has helped.

All of it has been given out of love, all of it is appreciated.

I feel like I have learned to let love in, but I have forgotten how to trust.

Silly things make me cry...silly things make me laugh.

"With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy."

Running Amuck

It was about 4am when we had returned from a call and I had just snuggled back into my sleeping bag, happy to be last up. Another medic came in and woke up his partner.
“We have to go,” he said. “Someone is smashing into peoples’ cars outside.”
Suddenly, I was awake, but awake as I was I couldn’t remember where I had parked my car. I hastily put my boots back on and followed the rest of my curious colleagues outside.

Most of the parking for work was on the street, and there were a few spots behind our building. By the time we were led outside I remembered that I was parked on the street and vulnerable to this mysterious car smashing. Luckily, we headed in the opposite direction of my car, to where two cars were parallel parked on the street. It appeared that someone (in their vehicle) had rear ended the car parked on the end. That car was pushed into the one in front of it. The first car was pretty much destroyed. The frame was bent, the front and rear bumpers...well, the rear bumper was totally off, and the front one was wedged underneath the car in front. They both belonged to employees, one to our supervisor.
In a matter of minutes, despite the odd hour, everyone was awake and standing outside speculating about the incident. The owners of said cars were absolutely stunned to say the least. It was soon suggested that a drunk driver was out there running amuck in the streets and it was only a matter of time until their antics caught up to them.

Literally minutes later, the tones went off for a car accident mere blocks from the station. I had never seen an ambulance tear out of the station more quickly. It was my supervisors call and you could tell he couldn’t wait to see the perp. Cooler heads prevailed and another truck went to relieve them of the call.
It was indeed the driver who had smashed up the cars. He had made a few more hits going down the street before his car became incapacitated. He was also predictably very drunk. He was taken to the hospital, I’m sure very securely, on a backboard, and my friends car was towed away in the morning.

Battery Access

We got a call for a fall. It came out as an ‘alpha’ response which means that the call was categorized as non-emergency and we go sans lights and sirens. The call was in a local apartment building. We got into the building easily as it was the middle of the day and there were lots of people milling around the lobby. We got upstairs and to the apartment and heard a tiny voice coming from the other side of the locked door.
“I’ve fallen and I can’t get to the door!”
Crap. We both tried the knob again in vain, just to make sure. I went back downstairs, certainly someone there could get us a key of some sort.
“Um...do any of you know where I can find the leasing or maintenance office? I need a key.”
“Sure. Are you a relative?”
I look down at my uniform and radio just to be sure they were still there. “No, someone called 911 and we need to get into the apartment.”
“Oh, well whose apartment is it?
“Um...I don’t no.” I said slowly as I glanced at the ambulance outside.
“Oh right, well the maintenance office is over here, he’s not in, but I can call him.”
“Great.”
Minutes passed. More minutes passed. Not only will our dispatch notice that we haven’t transported yet, let alone made patient contact, I know that there is an old lady on the floor of her apartment wondering where we are.
Finally the maintenance man emerged. He held the elevator for us, and some other residents tried to bustle onto it.
“Sorry, this one’s an express.” he said, escorting them away. I was relived to see that at least one person realized that someone in the building called an ambulance and that might merit a sense of urgency.

We got into the apartment no problem after that and found a lady on the floor of her bathroom. She said that she tripped over the rug and simply couldn’t get up. She didn’t appear to have any injuries so we picked her up and walked her to her living room. We asked if we could do anything else for her. She said as a matter of fact, yes. Pointing to her answering machine, she told us that it kept telling her she had a low battery, but she couldn’t get the battery cover off. I pulled out my trusty knife and unscrewed the battery compartment. Unfortunately, she didn’t have any fresh 9 volts so we had to leave her without a replacement. But we got her in a chair she could safely get out of, and made sure the remote and newspaper were within her reach. Sometimes we get to just help people.

Kayaking 101

My last weekend in New Hampshire was a rainy one. Not quite as much rain as last spring in southern NH, but enough rain to destroy roads, flood houses, and generally make a mess. I drove around on the second day of rain trying to get pictures of a nearby river, but all the roads around it were closed due to its flooding. The next day, I went to work and probably had the coolest call ever. Wait, time for a little more set up. There is a river in our town that is considered “running” at 6,000cfs (cubic feet per second) and “very high” at 11,000cfs. While I was at work that day, it was running about 25-30,000cfs. Needless to say, that’s ridiculously high and fast.

We were still at the hospital after a call when our next one came in for a river rescue. Not only a river rescue, but one involving three kayakers. I must admit I was pretty excited. So excited, I drove to the staging area in about 3 minutes. The details were limited, but apparently some kind citizen had seen two overturned kayaks floating down the horribly swollen river, and a third kayaker that had managed a self rescue on the far side of the river. We started the call out at a local park that would normally be a pretty good put in for the river. I couldn’t see anything. We moved further down the river to where the fire department was launching their rescue boat. I still couldn’t see anything. Judging by the speed of the river, I could only guess that the boats and their former occupants would already be in Massachusetts by that time, if they were there at all. It was about then though, that a state trooper had spotted two guys walking along the highway, looking very wet. I could barely believe that they had survived. So we drove up to meet the trooper and our victims.

We came upon three shivering, soaking wet, what I would like to call “village idiots.” They all went out on a river that is easily class III, wearing only what they happened to have on when they came up with this genius plan. This did not include dry suits, wet suits, splash jackets, or even one life vest between them. Oh yeah, it was also April in New Hampshire, which means the air is still quite cold, and the water is even colder. Local ponds are just barely shedding their icy shells. The vessels they chose for this well planned voyage were a trio of recreational kayaks. Well, at least they weren’t in an inflatable dingy from wal-mart.

All three refused any treatment but we inundated them with blankets, towels, and advice anyway. I asked them where they put in and how far they got out of pure curiosity. The first guy told me “about 20 yards.” We all shared a good laugh, I reminded the ‘kayakers’ how lucky they were, and off we went.
Last year, the river got to 75,000cfs. I sorely wish I had seen that.

Apologies and Excuses

Oh, what a neglectful blogger I have been. I somehow became one of those bloggers who update only once a month. And that update is merely full of apologies and excuses for not blogging. Apologies I have. (Sorry to you few faithful readers!) Excuses, I don't. I haven't died, fallen off the face of the earth or quit blogging. I have simply been lazy.

Updates to follow! More and more updates! More updates than you'll know what to do with! So many updates you can bottle them up and save them for a rainy day, you could eat them for breakfast, wax your car with them. Enough updates to...to...well, at the very least there will be updates, more than one every three weeks.

In the mean time, some google search terms:

"new hampshire colloquial sayings" Um, I can't really think of any. Maybe my NH peeps can help me out. I can only think of paking the ka an tha' laan. But that's not really a colloquial saying.

"free pictures of thoracotomies" Well, all I can say is that thoracotomies are gross, and I would only assume that normal people wouldn't pay to see pictures, or see the pictures for free either. They are gross. But, if you google "thoracotomy" you can find some pretty wicked pictures, free of charge.

"polyethylene rotomolded nurse tanks" It's not nice to put nurses in tanks, even rotomolded tanks.

So, that's all for now. More to come. More blogging with fewer apologies and excuses instead with adventures in kayamping, old school kayaking, job stuff, and a great call I almost forgot about.

A comedy (?) of errors

Ah, the move. I picked up Ewing after work and the next morning we went to Maine. We stopped at Old Orchard beach and then went to LL Bean. Amazingly, we didn’t buy anything unexpected. We also got some good clam chowdah in Freeport. We drove back home and went out to dinner with my roommates.
The next morning we went to pick up the moving truck and when we went to leave, it wouldn’t start. The guy realized that he had left the lights on the night before and the battery was dead. He charged it for a few minutes and we were on our way. The truck wasn’t that bad; a/c that worked, and an am/fm radio. It was basically an ambulance, so I didn’t mind driving it at all.

We packed it in a few hours with a lot of room to spare. We had Pisgah on the top of my truck and Kopapa in the moving truck. We left a little late in the day and headed into town so I could retrieve my pots from pottery class. We got to class and I found my teacher who told me that after last weeks class the kiln broke. They had just ordered a new one and she decided to mail me my pots when they were finished. I was a little nervous about this (and I still am, as I haven’t gotten them yet.)
So we left and got on the highway just in time to hit all the Boston traffic. We had finally gotten away from all that and stopped at a rest area. We got a snack and went to leave, but the moving truck wouldn’t start. We tried to jump it with my truck, but the battery was d.e.d. dead. I called the rental place and they referred me to a mechanic. The mechanic called me and said he was coming from Boston and would be more than an hour. Needless to say I was a little mad, but what could we do other than hope that they could fix it while we took a nap. When he arrived, the mechanic checked it out and replaced the battery right away. There was much rejoicing.
We were off again and a few hundred miles passed uneventfully. We had planned on stopping at a camp store in New Jersey, but we had lost so much time, it was closed by the time we got there. Our next stop was to White Castle for some mini burgers. I had never been to one and we desperately needed dinner. As we followed our google map toward the white castle, we should have taken into account that we were in Jersey and navigating there is ridiculous and should be reserved for people who understand things that don’t make any sense. After a bit of wandering and trying to turn around, Ewing asked for directions. He asked for directions to a White Castle at a Burger King. Even in my tired hunger I enjoyed the irony of this.

We finally found it, and ate way too many mini burgers and onion rings which were delicious. An hour later we were three hours from home and it was 0130. We decided to stop and spend the night. This decision caused me to miss the second testing for a job. But, in the essence of safety, stopping was the wise thing to do.

We set off again the next day. After many right turns (certainly no left turns in jersey), we had our gas pumped for us (certainly no self serve in jersey), got breakfast and got back on the highway.

Maryland welcoming us was a welcome sight. Safe and sound, we had plenty of time to unpack the truck and take a nap.

Okay, so about this call.

I was working 911 with my roommate and we were leaving a hospital when a call went out for a stabbing. It wasn’t our call and we almost squirreled it as it was close to our location, but we didn’t. Well, it turned out we didn’t have to. A second call went out to the same location also for a stabbing. So, off we went.
We arrived pretty much seconds behind the first ambulance. We were all kinds of confused that they send two ambulances. The fire engine was already on scene and sounded a little harried when they called for the second bus.
So, now the four of us trudged into the apartment building and upstairs. This kind of call is always on the top floor, and there is never an elevator. We let the first crew go in first as it was technically their call. A firefighter looking like a deer in the headlights pointed out one guy stabbed in the abdomen lying on the couch, very much alive. The first crew went to him. The firefighter then turned to me and my partner and said “You can check the others, but they’re dead.” Well, that’s new.
We continue into the apartment and it split into two bedrooms. In one of them was a woman also stabbed in the abdomen, yet very much dead. It took about a second for me to realize this, I surveyed the scene a bit, and then Andy appeared behind me and said that his patient was dead too. I took an unfortunate glance into the other room to see that body on the floor, stabbed in the chest. It was at this point for a bit of self mental preservation I wanted to get the hell out of there. The entire apartment was like a scene out of law and order. Blood absolutely everywhere. It went down the hall, into each room, along the walls, on the doors, into the bathroom. It was absolutely the craziest thing I had every seen, and possibly the most gruesome.
We left the bedrooms and went to help our colleagues with the other victim. He was conscious, but was mentally handicapped so information was not readily available. Even simple things like, ‘what happened?’ and, ‘how long ago?’ are still relative mysteries.
Andy went downstairs to inform the hospital, and I went to the other ambulance and set it up for the other crew. By the time I was finished, they were still stair chairing the patient to the lobby. I helped them transfer him to the cot and get everything back in their ambulance. We made sure that they had everything in hand before we cleared the scene.
I don’t think either of us believed what we had just seen. We spent the rest of the day talking about it, a potential double murder is pretty big news. On all the calls we did after that the fire crews would ask “Were you up on that call?” Everyone had heard of it and everyone was curious. The radio traffic must have sounded interesting as other than calling for us, a third ambulance was called for as well, but Andy cancelled it shortly after we saw the scene.
The next day I woke up at work and my partner said: "Your ass is on the front page!" Indeed, a picture of my back was on the front of the paper, taken as I was putting away the stair chair for the other ambulance. I went to the store and bought a few copies to take home. I was glad to have something to laugh about.
I later met with a detective and told my story. They were only interested in what I did and what I touched. They also took pictures of the soles of my boots, as stepping in blood was completely unavoidable.
In the end they determined that it was a murder-suicide. Andys patient had stabbed my patent and the guy on the couch before stabbing himself to death. More unfortunate than that, they were father mother and son.
In terms of CISM, it was good to talk about it, but for a couple days, it was all I could think about. Before the official report of what happened came out we could only speculate what happened, and I think not being sure, not knowing the whole story bothered me. Well, it still bothers me as we’ll probably never know everything but, at least we got some answers.